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Leading Off (8/19/16)

DISD rejects tax hike, changes for the police pension fund, and DPD responds to protesters' demands.

Dallas ISD Board Rejects Tax Hike. A majority of district trustees were in favor of putting the 13-cent increase on the November ballot for voters to consider, but a super-majority (six votes) was required for the measure to pass. The proposal was designed to fund several initiatives that superintendent Michael Hinojosa said were “essential” to the district’s future: early childhood education, early college high schools, and teacher pay incentives. The swing vote proved to be board president Lew Blackburn, who had co-authored a Dallas Morning News opinion piece in July in support of a vote.

Bailout for Police/Fire Pension Requires Painful Changes. The board of the city of Dallas pension fund for police officers and firefighters on Thursday discussed a plan to save the failing fund that’s projected to go broke by 2030, the result of years of risky real estate investments overseen by the former fund administrator. The proposal would increase the contributions of current officers, reduce cost-of-living increases for retired workers, and place strict limits on special accounts called deferred retirement option plans (DROP). The city would also have to kick in $650 million in one lump sum or four payments of $250 million each over 10 years. The board is expected to finalize the plan soon in anticipation of putting it to a vote among all police and firefighters next month.

Dallas Police Respond to Protesters. The Next Generation Action Network (the same protest group that marched downtown the night of the July 7 shootings) had made 14 demands of the department. The most significant change to which DPD has agreed is ending the policy of not interviewing any officer involved in a shooting for 72 hours after the incident. “Effective immediately, every officer will be provided the same legal rights as any other citizen who is the subject of a criminal investigation,” the department’s written responses to Next Generation reads. Most of the other answers DPD gave were clarifications of existing policies, such as explaining that there are no quotas for tickets or arrests that officers must meet.

McKinney Stadium Gets More Expensive. In May, voters in McKinney ISD approved bonds to pay for the construction of a new, $63.5 million football stadium. But increased concrete and labor costs have driven the total cost up to $70 million.

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